Pirates examples why you should take Spring Training stats with a grain of salt

There are plenty of examples in the Pirates' recent history to show why you should take Spring Training stats with a grain of salt.

Feb 26, 2014; Bradenton, FL, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Edinson Volquez (36) throws a
Feb 26, 2014; Bradenton, FL, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Edinson Volquez (36) throws a / Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
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Trevor Williams

Trevor Williams is an example of why both good and bad Spring Training numbers are not good indicators of future success. His 2017 season was solid, especially in the second half of the season. In 150.1 innings, the right-hander had a 4.07 ERA, 4.03 FIP, and 1.31 WHIP. Williams’ 18.1% K-rate was poor but had an above-average 8.1% walk rate and 0.84 HR/9. Williams was great at limiting hard contact with an 86.3 MPH exit velocity and 4.5% barrel rate. However, based on his 2018 Spring Training, this may have looked like a fluke.

He pitched 15.1 innings with a 5.87 ERA and 1.57 WHIP. Although he did strike out 18 batters, he also walked a half-dozen. Plus, he allowed two home runs. However, Williams would then go on to toss 170.1 innings for the Pirates, working to a 3.11 ERA, 3.86 FIP, and 1.18 WHIP. His 18% strikeout rate was about the same as in 2017, as was his 7.8% walk rate and 0.79 HR/9. Williams continued to excel at limiting hard contact with an 86.9 MPH exit velocity and 5.6% barrel rate.

He looked like he would follow that up with a strong encore in 2019 after he only allowed three earned runs and two walks in 11 innings during the following preseason. He still allowed two home runs and only struck out nine, but the bottom line looked great. But Williams pitched to a poor 5.38 ERA, 5.12 FIP, and 1.41 WHIP. His K% of 17.8% and 6.9% walk rate stayed relatively the same as in previous seasons but saw his HR/9 skyrocket to 1.67. That’s because his barrel rate jumped to 7.6%.